Dozens of aid organizations, both religious and non-religious, governments and NGOs, have already sprung into action, and on behalf of my friends and the beautiful and desperate people of Haiti I urge you to join in and offer help as well in any way that you can, and through whichever organization you most prefer. (CNN has a good list of charitable options.) Personally I will be giving to the organization of which I have been a part that serves there in Marfranc, New Life for Haiti. NLFH focuses on building schools and clinics, educational sponsorships for children, and agricultural development. While I honestly don't care which organization you send your support through (just do something!), I will say that one of the huge advantages of New Life for Haiti is that it is entirely volunteer run, so 98% of all funds will go directly to aid and development in Marfranc and the surrounding river valley, no organizational overhead or governmental middle-men to worry about. The plan right now, according to my friend Fran Leeman who heads the NLFH, is to put all donations into helping the people of Marfranc rebuild their homes. As Fran put it:
Our organization, New Life for Haiti, is accepting donations to buy cement to help rebuild homes in Haiti. I can guarantee you that despite all the various aid from governments that will flow into Haiti in the weeks ahead, homes will not be rebuilt. The immediate aid will be medical, clearing rubble from roads, and getting Port au Prince's already crumbling infrastructure (roads, electric, water) operable. All these are necessary, but for our part as a small organization, we are are going to look beyond the next few weeks to rebuilding homes in the area where we work. You can donate to buy cement that will rebuild a home at http://newlifeforhaiti.org. If you are part of a church or other community, please ask them to take a special offering for Haiti relief. There are many good organizations those funds can be given to. If you would like to send it our way, we will use 100 percent of it well.At any rate, once again, I don't care which organization you send support through - just choose the one that best fits your own ideals and personal concerns - but please, please, do something. The extreme poverty Haitians lived in every day was already unimaginable, even before the quake. I can't even get my head around what they must be going through now. And this isn't just some place on the other side of the world (as if that should matter). Haiti is less than an hour and a half flight from Miami. They're right next door.